The implementation of Circles of Support and Accountability in the United States

Ian A. Elliott, Gary Zajac

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


According to estimates from the U.S. National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), at least 95% of state prisoners are released back to their communities after a period of incarceration. The complex issue of returning individuals convicted of sex offenses to their communities often evokes particular concern for both criminal justice agencies and the general public. Amid increases in the scope and intensity of sex offenders' supervision, there has been a growing interest among academics, criminal justice practitioners, and faith groups in using restorative justice approaches with this population. Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) is a restorative justice-based community reentry program for sex offenders deemed to be at the highest risk of reoffending and with little or no pro-social community support. This integrative review synthesizes both the previous literature on the effectiveness of CoSA in reducing reoffending with findings from a recent evaluability assessment of CoSA provision in the US. It describes the various forms of implementation, the methods by which CoSA has and can be evaluated, and the possible obstacles that impede rigorous evaluation. The implications for the future implementation and evaluation of CoSA are discussed along with the implications for reentry policy and practice in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
StatePublished - Nov 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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